(Chuck Muth) – Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes won the Las Vegas Super Bowl’s MVP award yesterday. Now I’ll announce the game’s “Unsung Hero” award.
First, the first Super Bowl in Sin City was a huge success. The headline in today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal declared: “Epic” exceeds hype: Fans soak in “dream world” as Las Vegas delivers spectacle.”
Can’t buy headlines like that.
And the tax revenues generated have been enormous, as well.
The RJ also noted record crowds at sports books, full hotels, packed bars and restaurants, parties galore, festivities, extra temporary jobs, a flyover by our hometown Thunderbirds, etc., etc., etc.
And, of course, Taylor Swift.
Frankly, I’m sick of seeing and hearing about her during FOOTBALL games. But there’s no doubt that “celebrity sells” in today’s popular culture and the media certainly sold the heck out of Swiftie and her fans.
The game itself was pretty darned good, too. Thankfully, it wasn’t decided on a blown call by the refs.
And love him or hate him, KC tight end Travis Kelce – a.k.a., “Taylor’s boyfriend” – crooned “Viva Las Vegas” during the trophy presentation. Elvis fans rejoice!
And don’t forget all the jobs that were created building Allegiant, especially during then-Gov. Steve Sisolak’s COVID shutdown of the town’s economy.
Since then, Allegiant has not only been the home of the Las Vegas Raiders, but to UNLV’s Running Rebels. And there have been a number of huge concerts, college football championship games, and even high school games.
The Super Bowl, of course, is the super bowl of sports entertainment. And nobody does it better than Vegas, the Entertainment Capital of the World. So while this might have been the first Super Bowl in Sin City, it surely won’t be the last.
But it almost didn’t happen.
And one person – who has never been given the proper credit for its success – deserves recognition. So here goes…
Funding to build the stadium and bring the Raiders to Nevada was debated and voted on in a special session of the Nevada Legislature in October 2016. And the tax package was being widely criticized by the anti-stadium forces.
I had attended a number of the hearings held on the stadium proposal in Las Vegas leading up to the special session, so I’d heard both sides of the argument and came down on the side of building it.
After all, how can the Entertainment Capital of the World not have a world-class stadium for big, world-class events? I mean, it’s what we DO.
Anyway, approval of the bill required a 2/3 super-majority vote of the State Assembly (28 votes) – and stadium advocates were one vote short.
I happened to be in Carson City for that special session doing some campaign work for Dennis Hof, who was running for the State Assembly at the time. And I moseyed over to the Legislature where a top stadium lobbyist grabbed me in the hall and let me know they were still one vote short for approval.
Conservative Republican Assemblywoman Jill Dickman of Reno was truly conflicted on the bill and hadn’t decided which way to vote. She needed a smoke-break and asked me to join her outside.
We had a long conversation and went through the pros and the cons – especially as it related to the tax revenue needed to make the project a reality. The bottom line was that tourists in Las Vegas would be shouldering the burden, not Nevadans.
And the room tax itself was created long ago for the expressed purpose of promoting tourism in Las Vegas – which the stadium proposal clearly did. That’s what made the public funding aspect of the stadium different from tax packages to build other stadiums around the country.
In the end, Dickman provided the ONE VOTE needed to approve the bill. It passed in bi-partisan fashion, exactly 28-13. Without it, yesterday’s Super Bowl never would have happened.
And she paid a huge political price for it.
Republican then-Assemblyman Ira Hansen – a stadium opponent representing a district next door – was furious at Dickman, knowing her vote was the deciding vote. And he actively criticized Dickman over the vote in the final weeks of the 2016 general election campaign.
As a result, Dickman lost her re-election bid to Democrat Skip Daley by just 38 votes out of more than 30,000 ballots cast. With “friends” like Hansen, Dickman certainly didn’t need any enemies.
She got her revenge though when she came back to win her old seat from Daly in 2020, and currently serves as the Northern Assistant Minority Leader in the Assembly Republican Caucus.
Most Nevadans have no idea that the success of yesterday’s Super Bowl wouldn’t have happened without Assemblywoman Jill Dickman’s tough vote that cost her an election.
And for that, she’s Super Bowl LVIII’s “Unsung Hero.”
No fame. No fanfare. No trophy. Not even a game ball. She deserves so much more.
The least the NFL should do is give her two free tickets to the NEXT Super Bowl in Las Vegas. Four if she wants to take me and Gia!
And the Raiders should also recognize the Washoe County Republican next season by featuring her at one of the pre-game torch-lighting ceremonies at a regular season game.
In the meantime, if you run into her sometime in the future, buy her a beer. Just make sure it’s not Bud Light!
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“Steve Wynn said Monday that there’s been no single thing in his career that could transform Las Vegas as much as the arrival of professional sports. He said the proposed 65,000-seat stadium, which could house the Raiders of the NFL, would underwrite the employment security of tens of thousands of people in Nevada.” – 8NewsNow, 10/10/16
“Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, called the proceedings a disgrace… ‘The reality is if you look at all of the studies – literally all of them – stadiums tend to be money losers and tax sinkholes for the taxpayers.’” – Reno Gazette-Journal, 10/13/16
“(Raiders owner Mark) Davis explained that the deal was no sure bet and that he was worried about its passing even as he was at the signing ceremony.” – Pahrump Valley Times, 10/21/16
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views, and founder of CampaignDoctor.com. You can sign up for his conservative, Nevada-focused e-newsletter at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.